Islamic Republic of Mauritania
Mauritania Past and Present
Mauritania occupies the land where North Africa meets Sub-Saharan Africa, creating a very racially mixed society. Mauritania gained its independence from French colonization in 1960. Since then, the budding nation has endured decades of inconsistent leadership. Military coups, international disputes and internal strife over political alliances have marked the last half-century of Mauritania’s history. Traditionally, Mauritanians are nomadic, but a recent climate change has prompted rapid urbanization, resulting in unsafe squatter camps around the capital, Nouakchott. Oil was discovered offshore in 2001 but significant help to the economy has yet to be seen. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is active in this nation. In the past few years, AQIM kidnapped and murdered a number of tourists in Mauritania.
Entirely desert apart from the north bank of the Senegal River on its southern border.
- 1,030,700 sq km
- Annual Growth
- HDI Rank
- 154 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)
- 19 people groups (74% unreached)
- Official language
- Arabic; the Hassaniya dialect is used as the vernacular for two-thirds of the population. French is the language of government and commerce.
- 8 languages
Challenges and Opportunities for the Church
Islam has been entrenched for 1,000 years with little challenge. Many are the barriers to change – laws hindering proclamation of the gospel, powerful social resistance to change, an historic reluctance to engage with the outside world, geographical isolation, low literacy and minimal exposure to Christians and Christian media. Pray for greater spiritual openness and hunger for God.
Mauritania is one of the world’s neediest countries. One third of children face chronic malnourishment, and many families struggle to afford basic necessities. Widespread divorce also causes social difficulties. Up to 80% of women have been divorced (many have been married and divorced multiple times). Desertification threatens the remaining arable land, which amounts to perhaps only 1% of the total land area. The discovery of oil and new mineral reserves could either bring wealth to the country or increase corruption and the divide between rich and poor. Pray for political stability and wisdom for the government to enable revenues from Mauritania’s natural resources to benefit the poor.
The small Christian contingent in the country consists primarily of the Catholic Church and expatriate churches in and around the capital. Christians in Mauritania face many levels of persecution, including a total disruption of their family and professional lives, and strong social pressure to revert back to Islam. Because divorce is prevalent, new believers are vulnerable to being evicted from their homes and disowned by their families.
It is unlawful to publish any material that contradicts or threatens Islamic principles. Private ownership of Bibles and other Christian materials is not illegal. The JESUS Film is now available in all of the languages in Mauritania and a translation of the Bible in Hassaniya Arabic is currently in development.
How to Pray
Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!” —Isaiah 40:3
Scriptures to pray
Jer 1:10-12, Ez 37:3-5, John 10:10, Eph 6:10-13, Is 55 :1, Ps 147
- Pray for Christian believers who have been expelled from their families. (Mk 10:29–30)
- Pray that God will provide for believers who have lost their jobs because of their faith in Christ . (Matt 19:29)
- That God would raise up many pastors and evangelists among the Pulaar and Moors. Pray that pastors receive the proper leadership and theological training so they can properly disciple their congregations. (2 Tim 2:1–2)
- Pray for spiritual growth of believers, pray against “fear” that sometimes paralyzes them from seeking fellowship.
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to purify His church there. To purify the leaders’ lives – to set them free from worldly desires and to transform their hearts and lives. Pray for fresh hunger for God and for His Word. Boldness in sharing the good news in the face of persecution. That “walking in the Light” would be a high priority. Pray that believers will continue to honor the Lord our God in the midst of persecution. (Isaiah 26:13)
- For Mauritanian women & children to hear and respond to the Gospel. Pray for strong, godly marriages and families among those who have trusted in Christ. Pray against the spirit of divorce and division. Mauritania has a very high divorce rate.
- Pray that older believers would disciple well the younger disciples and be good models and mentors.
- For God to convict Mauritanians of sins that have proven ‘strongholds’ in preventing believers from growing into maturity in Christ: especially love of money, deceit, sexual sin, pride, witchcraft.
- Pray for God to give wisdom to the president and his cabinet, that they would seek God’s face and have a heart to know and act on God’s priorities for this land and its people.
- Pray that oil proves to be a blessing, not a curse, and that the benefits extend nationally. (Genesis 50:20)
- Pray that AQIM and any other terrorist groups operating in this nation to be exposed and defeated. (Mark 4:22)
- Pray for muslim religious leaders and others of influence to receive dreams and visions of Jesus and to be drawn to Him and lead their groups to Him.
- Pray for availability of Scripture in all national languages and for God’s Word to find good soil in many hearts, that those who read it and hear it would be transformed through its message.
- Pray that the daily radio broadcasts in Arabic and Pulaar would be listened to by many in the country and that it might bear much fruit in lives.
- Pray that the Lord to raise up laborers and send them to this white for harvest field. ( Luke 10:2)
- Pray for courage for the workers in the country to continue to share the Word and have wisdom in how to effectively minister to the people.
- Pray for community health and development projects that there would be both physical and spiritual transformation in those needy communities.
- Pray for a great harvest of souls in this nation. ( John 4:35 )
- Mauritania has been impacted by the destabilization in Mali with thousands of refugees fleeing Mali coming into Mauritania. Ask God to help meet the needs in this situation. Pray that peace and stability return to this region.